The Benedictine Monks of Weston Priory, Vermont
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A Declaration of Public Sanctuary

March 24, 1984


"On this, the fourth anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, the second anniversary of the first Public Sanctuary in this country, and in solidarity with the entire Sanctuary movement,

"We, the Benedictine monks of Weston Priory, in obedience to the Law of God, declare that our monastery is now a Public Sanctuary for refugees fleeing from Central America.

"Our hearts are filled with joy today, as we welcome, into the love and protection of this Christian community, you, our brothers and sisters from Guatemala: Felipe and Elena, and your children Marta, Julian, Alicia, Juana and Inez.

"We are firmly convinced that you have a moral and legal right to asylum in this country; and we believe that, in denying this right to you and your people, the Reagan administration violates the Law of God, the law of humanity, and the law of this nation. The threat of your deportation to torture and possible death in Guatemala has raised for us questions which are preeminently moral, ethical and religious.

"The suffering of your people, our brothers and sisters in Central America, is a tragedy reaching genocidal proportions, made possible militarily and financially by the government of the United States. The anguished cry of Archbishop Romero still rings out: 'In the name of God, stop the repression!'

"In face of the magnitude of the suffering of your people, as witnessed in your lives, in your martyrs, and in the hundreds of thousands who have fled their homelands,

"we want to respond to your plea for life,
and not connive in your death.

"Ours is a decision of conscience, flowing from our faith as followers of Jesus, and as Roman Catholic monks. We are simply living out the requirements of the gospel in this concrete situation.

"The Scriptures insistently enjoin us that 'to know God is to do justice. Therefore, shelter the oppressed and the homeless, lest innocent blood be shed.' Our centuries-long monastic tradition calls us to welcome all as Christ, especially the poor and those who are denied a voice. In welcoming you, we will listen to your voice and the voice of your people, and hear God's Word to us anew. And it was the founder of this community, Abbot Leo Rudloff, who, by his life, placed this question before us: 'Where was the voice of Christians, of the churches, during the genocide of the Jewish People by the Nazis?'

"If we are silent today, what will the next generation ask about us?

"And so, because of our faith in Jesus the Giver of Life, inspired by the witness of Saint Oscar Romero, of the North American churchwomen martyred in El Salvador, of the blood of the martyrs of Guatemala and El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras,

"We, the brothers of Weston Priory, promise, before the Living God, and before all who are gathered here, that we will stand at your side, Felipe, Elena, Marta, Julian, Alicia, Juana and Inez, And that, together with you and your struggling people, we will build God's Kingdom of Justice for all."


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